ND Journey: Julia Hartweger ’26 Finds Balance Between Academics and Extracurriculars

Author: Shannon Rooney

When Julia Hartweger ’26 was applying to colleges, she looked for a place that would offer her balance. 

“I truly value balance, and I believe it is crucial in every aspect of my life. My mantra is work hard, play hard, and I definitely feel Notre Dame does a great job of achieving both sides of that spectrum,” says Hartweger. 

A first-year student at Notre Dame, she has found that balance through her academic and extracurricular activities. 

Hartweger plans to declare a major in neuroscience and behavior through the College of Science at the end of the year. She chose the major because of her interest in and aptitude for science courses, but also for a more personal reason. 

“I have four younger brothers, and John, the oldest of the four, has a dual diagnosis of Down syndrome and autism, which puts him at high risk of neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer’s and dementia,” says Hartweger. 

She is interested in studying those diseases and looks forward to taking advantage of research opportunities through her department. 

Julia Hartweger '26 takes a selfie with friends at a Notre Dame football game.

Hartweger plans to balance her science-heavy major with a minor in musical theatre. She has been a musical theatre actress for the majority of her life. 

In her hometown of St. Louis, she spent significant time performing in The Muny, an 11,000 seat outdoor amphitheater that brings in Broadway names. Hartweger has been cast in 10 professional productions there over the past seven summers. 

Whether she is in a musical theatre class or a science class, Hartweger has found that the atmosphere at Notre Dame fits with her appreciation of balance. One of the things she appreciates most about the community is the option for collaboration over competition. 

“It truly is not a cutthroat environment,” she says. “You cannot deny that each student is highly driven, accomplished, and motivated. But more than that, everyone wants to help each other succeed.”

Outside of class, Hartweger takes voice lessons and is involved in several clubs and organizations, including the Notre Dame Dance Company, the Compassionate Care in Medicine Club, Best Buddies, the Filipino-American Student Organization, and the Neuroscience Club.

She is involved in a lot for a first-year student and says balance remains key as she takes full advantage of all the experiences available at Notre Dame. 

“No one can study or work all the time—I need my breaks and I’ve found that many people here think similarly,” she says. “One of my favorite aspects of the Notre Dame community is that it was easy to find my people, who are just as motivated and want to excel in school, but still want to enjoy life outside of the classroom.”


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